Skip to Content

VO2 Max Protocol

January 1, 2014
Updated April 12, 2018

By Brandon McElroy

I was trying to figure out how I wanted to train today to get my heart rate up and keep it there. I
didn’t want to run or jump rope and I wanted to use a kettlebell. Bring on the VO₂ Max Protocol!

You may have heard of VO₂ Max being tested using a treadmill in a sports lab and that’s where
it is most often used. VO₂ Max is essentially the body’s maximal oxygen uptake threshold. This
is generally considered the best indicator of physical fitness and cardiovascular health.

Here, we’re going to use a kettlebell to train our VO₂ Max! It’s intense, not only from a muscular
endurance standpoint but a cardiovascular one as well. It will leave you breathing heavy and
sweating from every pore in your body.

Before doing a VO₂ Max Protocol, make sure you are adequately warmed-up. I like to do a few
light kettlebell drills to prime to posterior chain such as swings, squats, cleans and then light
snatches.

Prior to performing, you need to determine your cadence, or how many swings you will get in
each work interval. The proper way is to do a 6-minute snatch test. For the first 5 minutes, start
out slow with the reps spread out evenly and then gradually increase your reps per minute. On
the 6th minute, go all out and perform as many snatches as you can. You will then take 60% of
this number to use as your cadence. For example, if you do 15 snatches in the 6th minute then
your cadence will be 9 snatches per work interval (15 x 60% = 9).

Here’s how to perform the VO₂ Max Protocol:

  • Set a timer for 15 seconds work and 15 seconds rest. (The best physical timer for this is the Gymboss timer; or you could download a timer app).
  • Perform your determined number of snatches in the 15 second work interval with your right arm (9 using the example above)
  • Rest 15 seconds
  • Perform your determined number of snatches with the left arm
  • Rest 15 seconds
  • Repeat (Ultimate goal is 80 sets but will take quite a while to achieve if you’re just starting out)

I have done this with both a 35lb and a 55lb kettlebell. Once I hit 80 sets (40 with each arm) with the 35lb bell then I moved up to the 55lb bell. This is a test that I perform every so often to determine my progress.

This will push your body hard and will really elevate your heart rate. It is a great exercise that I constantly come back to and truly have a love/hate relationship with.

Give it a shot….push your potential!

  Get Onnit

Onnit Academy
Onnit Academy is the most comprehensive database of information related to Unconventional Training, a unique new form of fitness methodology that focuses on functional strength, conditioning, and agility using the most efficient means and tools possible. The online database includes articles, videos, tutorials, and workouts featuring alternative implements like kettlebells, sandbags, steel maces, steel clubs, battle ropes, and more.

Keep-It™ Money Back Guarantee
We’re confident you’ll love your Onnit supplements. If the product doesn't perform for you, however, we’re not gonna play games with you. Order any of our entry size supplements, and if you don’t like it, you can keep it! Notify our team, telling us why it wasn't a fit for you, and we’ll get you a refund right there on the spot - no return necessary. We just ask that you try it out for at least two weeks to give it a fair shot.
Our Keep-It™ guarantee is valid for the first-time purchase of a formula, and redeemable up to three months (90 days) after the purchase date. Multiple bottles, foods, apparel and gear do not fall under this guarantee, however, they may be applicable for return. Fitness equipment, personal care products, knowledge purchases, digital products, and DVDs are not eligible for return or refund. For more information and a full list of products that qualify, visit our Keep-It™ page. Further details can be found on our Refund Policy support page.
Free Shipping
Free shipping is offered on orders with a minimum subtotal of $150 less discounts. Free shipping is only available in the contiguous U.S. and excludes Fitness and Digital items.
Media
For media inquiries please contact us at media@onnit.com.
Military & First Responder Discount
In thanks to military and first responders, we're extending a 15% discount off MSRP for all products purchased at Onnit.com.
To qualify, simply verify your status during checkout on the payment step. We verify through ID.me, our trusted technology partner for secure digital identity verification.
After verification, your discount will auto-apply on that order and all future orders.
Please note that this discount cannot be combined with coupons.
If you have any questions or issues with the verification process, please don't hesitate to reach out to Customer Service.
* US Military members, please choose United States as your destination country, as this will ensure your package ships via USPS and that you are not given international shipping rates.
Subscribe & Save
With a subscription, you'll get your favorite Onnit products whenever you want at 15% off MSRP. All automatic, worry free, and with our same great money back guarantee.
Cancel or adjust your order at any time, hassle free. Your payment method will only be charged right before your order ships. The discount applied every time is 15% off MSRP or the current sale discount, whichever is greater. For more information, see the complete Onnit Subscription Terms & Conditions and Frequently Asked Questions.

Secure Shopping

We implement a variety of security measures to maintain the safety of your personal information when you place an order or enter, submit, or access any information on our website. We incorporate physical, electronic, and administrative procedures to safeguard the confidentiality of your personal information, including Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) for the encryption of all financial transactions through the website. We use industry-standard, 256bit SSL encryption to protect your personal information online, and we also take several steps to protect your personal information in our facilities. For example, when you visit the website, you access servers that are kept in a secure physical environment, behind a locked cage and a hardware firewall. After a transaction, your credit card information is not stored on our servers.